Interior Health is reporting 11 outbreaks at long-term care facilities, including eight in the Okanagan.
Six of the outbreaks are COVID-related, while five of them are due to respiratory illnesses. Outbreaks have been confirmed at the Williams Lake Seniors Village, Polar Ridge Pavilion, Mariposa Gardens, Monashee Mews, Ridgeview Lodge, Heritage Square, McKinney Place, Three Links Manor, Mission Creek Landing, Cottonwoods and Kelowna General Hospital.
“Respiratory illness is a number of different viruses that can cause respiratory symptoms like a cough, fever, sore throat and exhaustion,” described Interior Health medical health officer, Dr. Silvina Mema.
“This is not uncommon for this time of year, but over the last couple of years, it slowed down because we had so many restrictions. Anytime you have an outbreak, however, it is a concern.”
Interior Health says despite the rise in COVID-19 and respiratory illnesses among seniors, vaccinations are playing a critical role.
“We have a number of individuals affected in these long-term care facilities, but we are not seeing the large number of people affected like we were seeing before the vaccination of COVID, so very few hospitalizations and that is really good news,” said Dr. Mema.
Interior Health’s medical health officer says there are a number of steps and precautions being taken at long-term care facilities during this time.
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“So, we restrict visitations, we isolate any seniors that have symptoms and it’s also mandatory to wear masks inside long-term care facilities, particularly for staff that are working in the facility,” said Dr. Mema.
With the holiday season just days away, Dr. Mema added that isolating can be especially tough on the metal health of those affected.
“Outbreaks can have severe impacts on seniors,” explained Dr. Mema.
“The restrictions that are put in place to stop the spread can result in social isolation, and now we are in the Christmas season, and people are eager to get together and there are Christmas celebrations, or other activities and we have to restrict those during the outbreaks, unfortunately.”
IH added that if you haven’t received a COVID-19 or influenza vaccine, there is still plenty of time to do so.
“If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, we strongly recommend you get it done,” said Dr. Mema.